#83 - Dave LaRoche, - LH Reliver
LaRoche was a lefty version of Scot Shields with more junk pitching and a moustache. He was the set-up man in a solid pen in the late 70s and was the kind of pitcher who, if he gave you heartburn, you at least knew it was going to all fall apart. When he was on he was on and if there was a crack in the armor, the whole suit fell apart.
Without firsthand experience, Black Hawk Waterloo sizes things up...
I don't know much about Dave LaRoche, beyond his stats, aside from this:
My father always used to talk about how much he sighed on the mound. Like, deep, heaving, heavy sighs. If I ever let out a loud sigh, I would be reminded of Dave LaRoche. And that's all I know about the man, aside from his being a slightly above-average pitcher who mainly came out of the bullpen for a decade.
Rob McMillin relives the La Roche saga...
Dave LaRoche's first game in the Show was a doozy, a 16-inning, 4 hour 14 minute marathon 2-1 victory over the Red Sox on May 11, 1970. At the time, it was the second-longest game in Angel history, one in which LaRoche was the last man standing. He picked up the win by making the last out of the sixteenth, inheriting two men on with Carl Yastrzemski at the plate.
The game was an early indicator of the qualities that would make him one of the great relievers of the early Angels. (He tried out as a starter at various points in his career, but went 2-7 lifetime in that role.) Famous for his blooper pitch, the "LaLob", he had a remarkable 1971 in which he was three-quarters of a run below the league average ERA, and appeared in 56 games, eighth in the AL. Traded in the offseason for Leo "Mr. Automatic" Cardenas (who wasn't for the Angels), Dave moved to Minnesota, who flipped him to the Cubs, who traded him to Cleveland, where he posted the two best seasons of his career. With five seasons with double digits in saves, he made the All Star team twice, in 1976 and 1977.
Returning to Anaheim in 1977, he continued his excellent work in 1978, but ineffectiveness struck in 1979; after middling years in 1979 and 1980, the Angels released him after spring training in 1981. He signed with the Yankees, where he went on to pitch three more years, including one inning of scoreless work in a 9-2 blowout by the Dodgers in game 6 of the World Series. LaRoche these days is maybe more famous for being the father of a pair of top-drawer young players, Andy (in the Dodgers system) and Adam (in the Braves system).
Read more of Rob's daily baseball writing at the 6-4-2 L.A. Baseball Blog.
BHW, aka The Chronicler, blogs about the Angels from a decidedly statistical point of view at Chronicles of the Lads.